Rappler Newscast | November 29, 2013
Today on Rappler.
- Bureau of Customs chief Ruffy Biazon and 6 other ex-congressman among 34 in the second batch of pork barrel fund charges.
- Defense secretary Gazmin says the Philippines is working closely with allies as tensions rise with China’s new air defense zone policy.
- Thai protesters storm army headquarters demanding the end of “Thaksin regime.”
Story 1: CUSTOMS CHIEF, 33 OTHERS IN PDAF CASE
The Department of Justice files the second group of cases for the pork barrel scam.
The charges include 34 people including an ally of the President.
Among those charged of malversation, direct bribery and graft and corrupt practices are 7 former congressmen including former Muntinlupa Congressman and now Bureau of Customs chief Ruffy Biazon.
Biazon is a member of the ruling Liberal Party.
The other 6 are Douglas Cagas of Davao del Sur, Arthur Pinggoy Jr of South Cotabato, Salacnib Baterina of Ilocos Sur, Marc Douglas Cagas IV of Davao del Sur, Arrel Olaño of Davao del Norte, and Rodolfo Valencia of Oriental Mindoro.
Valencia was also an LP member before he finished his term in 2013.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says the charges against Biazon proves party affiliation is not a factor in filing cases.
LEILA DE LIMA,JUSTICE SECRETARY: Hindi po nagiging criterion ang political affiliation ng mga ito. Nalalaman na lang ho namin yung political party affiliation kapag kumpleto na yung ebidensiya at clini-clear na po sa akin. Tiyaka ko lang pinapacheck yung political party affiliation.
(I just need to stress political affiliation is not a criterion. We only find out the political party affiliation when the evidence is complete and cleared with me, that's the only time we check political party affiliation.)
Charged aside from former legislators are two agents of congressmen 3 heads and 7 employees of implementing agencies, 12 Commission on Audit resident auditors two presidents of fake non-governmental organizations and alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
The pork barrel scam involves lawmakers endorsing their Priority Development Assistance Fund to Napoles' NGOs in exchange for hefty kickbacks.
The funds are allocated with the connivance of government agencies and corporations the endorsement and releases facilitated by agents or staff of the lawmakers.
Customs chief Ruffy Biazon responds to news of the charges saying he is "willing and ready to face the allegations."
Biazon adds "accounting for public funds comes with the territory of serving in government."
Biazon's statement did not mention any plans to resign.
Story 2: COA WANTS OUT OF BUDGET DELIBERATIONS
The Commission on Audit or COA finds itself asking for funds from the very lawmakers who are the subject of its explosive audit report.
Facing legislators in a 2014 budget hearing, COA Chair Grace Pulido Tan was grilled for hours by Senator Jinggoy Estrada.
Tan led the special audit report on lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF.
To avoid this situation in the future, Tan is proposing to have COA's annual budget be automatically appropriated.
She says, "We do not complain about having to ask for a budget but having to go through the process, sometimes we are swayed by scare tactics.”
Tan says she feels her interpellation by Estrada during Monday's Senate budget hearing which lasted until past-midnight, was "a waste of executive time."
She adds, "I don't think there was really anything of national significance there."
Tan also reveals Estrada already spoke to her in private saying he won’t ask those questions on the Senate floor.
But Tan says, Estrada asked the same questions anyway
The COA chair says, "It was really a battle of trying to wear me down.
He kept on asking, Are you tired? But no, I won't give up."
Story 3: PH 'COORDINATING WITH ALLIES' ON REGIONAL TENSIONS
Japanese defense minister Itsunori Onodera will come to the Philippines next week to meet with Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.
The visit comes at a time of heightened regional tensions because of China’s new air defense zone policy.
Gazmin acknowledges renewed tensions between China and Japan may come up.
China's state media calls for "timely countermeasures without hesitation" if Japan violates the country's newly declared air zone.
Beijing earlier sent fighter jets and an early warning aircraft to patrol the area following military overflights by Tokyo.
The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines for its part defended Beijing's move to deploy an aircraft carrier to the disputed South China Sea.
In an e-mail to Rappler, Chinese Embassy spokesman Zhang Hua says “This is a normal training mission and should be beyond reproach.”
Japan and South Korea both disregarded the air defense identification zone Beijing declared last weekend.
The zone includes disputed islands claimed by China, but controlled by Japan.
Beijing's air zone was condemned in Washington, Tokyo, South Korea and elsewhere.
Washington has security alliances with both Tokyo and Seoul.
Analysts say neither China nor Japan want to engage in armed conflict.
Story 4: THAI PROTESTERS TARGET ARMY, RULING PARTY HQ
Defiant Thai opposition protesters storm the army headquarters and party offices of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Friday intensifying their fight to bring down her government.
The protesters – a mix of royalists, southerners and the urban middle class are united by their loathing of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in a coup in 2006.
Protesters are demanding the end of the "Thaksin regime" and want to replace the government with an unelected "people's council.”
Thaksin is the older brother of the present prime minister Yingluck.
He is adored by many of the country's rural and urban working class.
Thai opposition protesters cut the power to the national police headquarters Thursday, ignoring a plea by the prime minister to end their rallies after she survived a no confidence vote in parliament.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra receives a much-needed boost as her allies overwhelmingly reject the censure motion against her.
The nearly month-long demonstrations are the biggest since mass protests 3 years ago that degenerated into the kingdom's worst civil strife in decades.
Story 5: THE wRap
At number 5, The grand mufti of Saudi Arabia justifies a ban on women drivers saying it “protects society from evil."
In a speech, the kingdom's most senior cleric Sheikh Abdul Aziz says "It’s not one of society's major concerns."
His comments come as activists say they were assured by Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef the controversial ban is being reassessed.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are barred from driving.
At number 6, Two Singaporean men were arrested for allegedly defacing President Tony Tan’s website during a recent rash of cyber attacks.
The website was hacked about an hour after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's website displayed mocking messages from hackers' group Anonymous.
Police did not reveal the identity of the two suspects aged 17 and 42 but Singaporean businessman Doolson Moo earlier told the Straits Times newspaper he did it to "test for vulnerabilities."
He says his accomplice was a 17-year-old student he knew through Facebook.
Singapore strictly regulates the traditional media, but insists the new licensing rules do not impinge on Internet freedom.
And at number 10, With 361,000 followers and counting NASA takes self-portraits to new heights.
CNN reports, in less than three months the space agency became one
of the most popular accounts on Instagram.
The account's first post highlights the launch of the agency's LADEE research robot.
But what got social-media’s attention was an “ill-fated photobomber” known as #nasafrog.
Story 6: ACHIEVERS RECOGNIZED AT DO MORE AWARDS
Eight individuals who represent the country’s best hope for change are recognized at Rappler and Rexona’s Do More Awards.
Pia Ranada reports.
Faces of hope and inspiration, a glitzy red carpet, and an award honoring not just excellence but heart.
The awards honors 8 individuals - real people who made a mark with their passion and courage.
Mural painter AG Sano is chosen in the artist category, Asean athlete Mimi Lucas for the challenger category, Gawad Kalinga's Luis Oquinena for Civic hero
Filipino Freethinker's Red Tani for digital trailblazer, Susan Ople for global Pinoy, Educator Rolando Dela Cruz for the innovator category, Network executive Daniel Razon is the choice for luminary, and Hapinoy's Mark Ruis for social entrepreneur.
They were chosen based on a month-long online poll and votes from a panel of 8 judges.
Paying tribute to the Do More Awardees are two young first time senators, world-class athletes, beauty queens, celebrities, and other social movers.
Rappler CEO Maria Ressa welcomes the crowd. She talks about humanity's increasing ability to make a difference.
The 8 Do More Awardees embody this great capacity for good.
Artist AG Saño gives advice on how one can do more.
AG SAÑO, THE ARTIST WINNER: Dapat iniisip natin yung bang tao for us to be able to do more. Pagka sarili lang natin, definitely we won't do something outside our comfort zone. So let's think about our neighbors and how we can improve their lives.
(We should think about others to be able to do more.
If we only think about ourselves, definitely we won't do something outside our comfort zone.)
Do More Awards judge Bianca Gonzales said it was difficult to select winners from a pool of amazing finalists.
But in the end, 2 factors sealed the deal.
For Senator Bam Aquino, doing more doesn't stop here.
BAM AQUINO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR For those of you that do more hopefully you will be able to inspire those who don't to do and those who do to do even more. Many of us are prone to despair, are prone to hopelessness and even helplessness and those who do more, it is all of you the winners and of course the nominees tonight, who show us that there is so much hope in this country, that there is so much hope in the Filipino people.
Pia Ranada, Rappler, Manila.
Newscast Production Staff
|EXECUTIVE PRODUCER / WRITER||Lilibeth Frondoso|
|ASSOCIATE PRODUCER / PUBLISHER||Rodneil Quiteles|
|HEAD WRITER / PROMPTER||Katerina Francisco|
|MASTER EDITOR / PLAYBACK||Vicente Roxas|
|TECHNICAL DIRECTOR / CAMERAMAN||Charlie Salazar|
|3D GRAPHICS||Sten Bautista|